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Trauma warning for nurses treating domestic violence

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Emergency nurses often experience disruptive and recurrent memories as a result of caring for the survivors of domestic violence, caution South African researchers.

Emergency nurses have the opportunity to intervene during the period following exposure to intimate partner violence when survivors are most receptive for interventions, the researchers said.

But the confrontation with the trauma of intimate partner violence can affect emergency nurses’ ability to engage empathetically with survivors, which is fundamental to all interventions, they warned.

The study authors, from the University of Pretoria’s nursing science department, interviewed 11 nurses working in hospital emergency units.

“Exploring the tacit internal experiences related to caring for survivors of intimate partner violence revealed emergency nurses’ vulnerability to the effects of secondary traumatic stress,” they said online in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

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